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October 14, 2008 12:02 am

It's a go: Plaza Diane project receives nearly $1 million

Written by Tribune Staff

What was once a World War II-era filling station will become a community arts center, thanks to a $944,012 grant approved by the State Loan and Investment Board last week.

The Plaza Diane — Community Center for the Arts, located in the heart of Downtown Powell, received the Community Facilities Grant through the Wyoming Business Council.

“It's been a long, long process. A lot of people have remained dedicated,” said Brad Bonner, spokesman for the Plaza Diane committee. “To have the grant go through is tremendously exciting.”

The community center will provide a venue for youth, including art education, music, photography and theater classes. It will also be a community and family-oriented location for art shows, outdoor movies, a meeting space and home of the Powell Farmers' Market.

The project, designed by CTA Architects Engineers of Billings, will be built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. It could achieve the highest LEED certification, platinum, one of the first in Wyoming.

The Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Visitor Center in Moose is currently Wyoming's only platinum-certified project.

“We feel like this is an opportunity for Powell to step forward and be a leader for conservation and environmental consciousness,” Bonner said.

Bonner said making the building green by LEED standards has been a critical element for supporters of the project.

Solar panels, water efficient landscaping and reusing the current building are just a few of the LEED standards integrated in the Plaza Diane project.

Plaza Diane would also be the first Community Facilities Grant project in the region to receive a platinum standing, said Leah Bruscino, the northwest regional director for the Wyoming Business Council.

“Doing what it takes to make it sustainable is fabulous,” Bruscino said.

Bruscino said the project is also unique because of its outdoor component. Plaza Diane will include terraced gardens and a splash pad for children.

The project appeals to a diverse group of community members, Bruscino said, adding that its location is good for downtown commerce.

“I'm really excited,” she said “I can't wait to see the finished project.”

The final grant funding agreement will take about a month and construction plans will be finalized with CTA in the next few months. After that, a contractor will be selected through a bid process, as it is a city-owned property. The five to six month construction project is expected to start later this year or at the beginning of 2009, Bonner said.

“Hopefully next summer, we'll be done,” Bonner said.

The grant provides money for the infrastructure, but Bonner said the 30-person Plaza Diane committee is still actively raising private funds for an endowment for operating and maintenance costs.

As part of the grant stipulations, the community will provide a match of $166,590, which has already been raised. The value of the real estate counts toward the community match.